Road Tripping the California Coast

California 1 is open again, a development that will once again lure foreign adventurers back to these lush landscapes. But there's a more interesting way to wander one of America's finest regions, and it's the one that made a trip from LA to San Francisco plausible even when the 80-year old byway was out of commission.
Big Sur-Prise
Road Tripping the California Coast Winston Ross for Newsweek

For much of the past two years, one of the world's most idyllic sojourns found itself bifurcated by disaster: the Soberanes fire in 2016 and the flooding and landslides that followed once the rains came closed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, the only connection between the iconic California Highway 1 and the north, then a landslide last year smothered a quarter-mile stretch.

Now, it's open again, a development that will once again lure foreign adventurers back to these lush landscapes. But there's a more interesting way to wander one of America's finest regions, and it's the one that made a trip from LA to San Francisco plausible even when the 80-year old byway was out of commission.

Those brave enough to sneak around the wreckage will discover a route that slips from LAX into San Luis Obispo County's underrated brilliance, and then out a legendary set of hairpin curves along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, back to Big Sur via Highway 1, and right through past San Francisco's overpriced hotels to sleepy Sausalito. Here's where to go, and stay, along the way.

Stick the landing
From LAX, pick up a vessel and spend night number one at the Malibu Beach Inn, a hotel along the Billionaire’s Beach coastline whose name belies its treasures: fresh, local and expertly prepared food, unfettered ocean views and a slice of tranquility that clears the mind enough for a long morning with a cup of coffee and the New York Times. Amelia Pape for Newsweek